When he last addressed the topic to the Providence Journal, Providence Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy all but confirmed forward Max Sauve is ready to return to game action from a concussion.
Sauve’s two-week, five-game absence marked an unwelcome tumble back into old patterns for the battered Bruins prospect and his current AHL employers. However, assuming he snaps that hiatus with Friday night’s game versus Connecticut, he will have an opportunity to reprise the equally recurrent silver lining.
In his professional career of two-plus years, Boston’s second-round draft choice from 2008 has constantly flaunted fresh legs upon returning from injury.
As a rookie in December of 2010, Sauve returned after a 54-day break from game action and proceeded to tally four goals and six points in eight games.
Last winter, he had been pointless in seven games before his two-plus months on the sideline with a previous concussion. Upon his return for the final two months of the campaign, which was briefly interrupted by a call-up to Boston and another ailment sustained in the Show, he did not go pointless in consecutive games for the rest of the season.
Overall, between Feb. 17 and April 15, he sprinkled an 8-13-21 scoring log over his last 19 twirls with the 2011-12 P-Bruins. Those eight goals included each of his four power-play strikes on the year.
All looked right in Sauve’s circles as he virtually picked up where he left off to commence his third full season. Reporting to camp with expressed confidence after a more intensive summer of training, he started 2012-13 with four goals and six points in the first seven games.
Afterwards, he went cold for four straight outings leading up to his latest concussion. In their last five games without his services, the Bruins have gone 3-2-0, but have been outscored 17-9, discounting shootouts.
Their most productive night over Sauve’s injury stint was the first, a 3-2 win over Manchester on Nov. 16.
Translation: Sauve’s absence, combined with Carter Camper’s last weekend, has not quite yielded the direst consequences conceivable. It certainly does not absolve the collective Providence power-play brigade for its recent barrenness, but continued frostbite will be a little harder to explain if Sauve returns this weekend and is looking capable and fails to click.
Assuming he has brushed away all of the unpleasantness of his latest ailment, he will be equally on the spot as, say, Jordan Caron, who has identical scoring stats this season but has been virtually invisible in November.
While history holds no sway on the present, the P-Bruins cannot hurt themselves by investing hope in another spontaneous surge from Sauve post-injury. They are in the cellar of the AHL’s offensive leaderboard with 2.06 goals per game, but have a collection of ostensibly easier opposing defenses forthcoming.
All three of this weekend’s adversaries―Connecticut, Portland and Worcester―are no higher than No. 20 among defensive teams, and each team averages more than three goals-against per night.
Opportunism and an inclination finish on the part of Sauve and other leaned-on strikers so as to raise an upper hand and not give away any confidence. That was one pivotal aspect Providence was lacking when it poured 16 and 17 shots in last Sunday’s second and third period in St. John’s, only to let a 2-0 deficit rapidly swell to a 6-0 final.
Reinserting the two-plus-year veteran with a 38-34-72 log over 117 career AHL games could be one means of redress. But Sauve will need to assert his presence without delay, just as he has done in this situation before.